Please Note: This production contains themes and language of an adult nature, and is not suitable for children.
This amateur production is presented by special arrangement with Casarotto Ramsay & Associates
“So Thebes, I’m back.”
These are the first lines of The Bacchae, spoken by Dionysos, the ancient Greek god of – amongst other things – theatre.
The words hold a special resonance in this production: the show you are about to watch will be (to the best of my knowledge) the first seen live on a Scottish stage since lockdown. The performers are the first actors in Scotland to perform for an audience, in-person, since March. We are back (in a fashion) and here we are performing one of the world’s oldest surviving plays, one of the last of the great Greek tragedies, which contains within its action the very birth of theatre.
With each passing day the themes of this two and a half thousand year old play resonate more and more. Oppressive regimes that police women and their bodies; the denial and dismissal of the power and importance of artistic expression; arrogant leaders who favour bluster and rhetoric over truly listening to the needs of their people – one really needn’t look very far at all to see the contemporary parallels.
Whilst the process of making the show has certainly been unusual – masks, distancing, the constant cleaning of hands and chairs and set and props – none of this has taken away from the fact that we were in a room together making theatre with an end goal of being in a room performing for other people – this has been a privilege and a pleasure. However, during rehearsals these students were also effectively told by their government that the industry they wish to enter is unviable and that they should consider retraining.
I have spent the past five weeks working with a group of incredibly talented and committed young artists from across the departments of acting, production, design and composition. Each one of them has continually impressed me with their dedication, hard work and passion. Retrain? As far as I can see they are primed and ready to enter an industry which, I believe, will – when the time is right – help to heal a country and a world that has been through the worst of times.
Dionysos is referred to in this play as The Scream and I have come to see the play as a scream too. A scream of joy and celebration, yes, but at this moment in time it also feels very much like a scream of protest. A scream that says: We are back. And we’re not going anywhere.
Finn den Hertog, Director